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Sunday, May 27, 2018

Humble (apple) Pie


The Ingredients:

Pie crust
  • 310 g (or 2½ cups) of unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 5  g (or ¾ teaspoons) of salt
  • 80 ml (or ⅓ cup) of grapeseed oil (or equivalent mild tasting, high smoke-point vegetable shortening)
  • 115 g (or 4 oz) of unsalted butter
  • 60 ml (or ¼ cup) of iced water
    Honeycrisp apples almost live up to their designation; they
     are not  quite honey-sweet, and that's all for the better

Filling
  • 30 ml (or 2 tablespoons) of lemon juice
  • stevia equivalent of 150 g (or ¾ cup) of sugar
  • 1.8 kg (or 4 lb) of apples such as Honeycrisp (my current favorite)
  • 15 g (or 2 tablespoons) of ground flaxseed meal
  • 2.5 g (or 1 teaspoon) of ground cinnamon
  • 0.5 g (or ¼ teaspoon) of ground nutmeg
  • 0.5 g (or ¼ teaspoon) of ground allspice
  • 30 g (or 1 oz) of unsalted butter
  • 2 g (or ¼ teaspoon) of salt

The Method:

Pie crust
  1. Place the flour, salt, and grapeseed oil into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade.
  2. Blend briefly to distribute the oil evenly.
  3. Cut the 115 g (or 4 oz) of butter into approximately 1-cm (or ¾-inch) dice, and put them into the food processor.
  4. Pulse the food processor until the butter pieces are approximately the size of petite peas.
  5. While blending at low speed, add the water gradually just until the dough forms a ball. If necessary, add more water to form the dough ball. Stop grinding immediately.
  6. Remove the dough ball onto a lightly floured large board or countertop, knead it briefly to expel any air pockets, and roll it into a fat, short log.
  7. Cut the log into two pieces; one (for the pie top) about twice as long as the other (for the pie bottom and sides).
  8. Stand each piece on end, and press gently down to form discs of dough about 2 cm (or ¾ inch) thick.
  9. Pick up each disk and roll it along the floured surface until the edges are smooth, and slightly thickened.
  10. Cover the pastry disks individually with plastic wrap and place them in the refrigerator for 30 to 40 minutes.

Filling
  1. Place the lemon juice and stevia into the bottom of a large mixing bowl and swirl or stir to mix them well.
  2. Peel the apples and cut them into slices approximately ½ cm (or ¼ inch) thick. 
  3. As you slice each apple, place the slices into the mixing bowl and toss them with a spoon to coat them with the lemon juice mixture.
  4. In a small bowl, place the flaxseed, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice,vanilla powder, and salt. (If you have it on hand, pure vanilla bean powder may be added sparingly to this mixture.)
  5. Mix the spices thoroughly, then sprinkle the mixture onto the apple slices and toss them in the bowl until all of the apple is evenly seasoned.

Pie
  1. Use a small amount of butter to grease a pie dish 25 cm (or 9 inches) in diameter and 5 cm (or 2 inches) deep.
  2. Turn on the oven and set it to 220°C (or 425°F).
  3. Reflour the board or countertop if necessary and remove the dough from the refrigerator.
  4. Roll out the larger dough disk, turning it several times to redistribute the flour and ensure that it does not get sticky. Keep doing this until the dough sheet is approximately 40 cm (or 16 inches) in diameter.
  5. Lightly and loosely roll up the dough sheet, lift it gently, and unroll it onto the buttered pie dish so that it fits snugly into the bottom of the dish and its edges hang over the rim. 

  6. Place the spiced apple filling into the pie crust, compacting the pieces so that they fit together well without much air space between slices.
  7. Dice the 28 g (or 1 oz) of butter and sprinkle the pieces across the top of the filling.
  8. Roll out the smaller dough disk, turning it several times to redistribute the flour and ensure that it does not get sticky. Keep doing this until the dough sheet is approximately 35 cm (or 14 inches) in diameter.
  9. Make decorative cuts in the center of the dough sheet, or prick it in several places with a fork to make small holes so that steam can escape during baking.
  10. Lightly and loosely roll up the dough sheet, lift it gently, and unroll it onto the buttered pie dish so that it fits perfectly over the pie dish.
  11. Using a fork or your fingers, press the edges of the pie top and the pie crust together all around the pie and, if you like, trim them neatly to the edge of the pie dish with a knife.
  12. Place the pie in the oven for 20 minutes at 220°C (or 425°F) then lower the temperature and bake it for another 40 to 50 minutes at 190°C (or 375°F). Check the pie often after 40 minutes (i.e. after 1 hour in the oven) and remove it from the oven when you can see or hear that the filling is bubbling.
  13. Cool the pie in the dish on a rack before trying to cut and serve it.

The Story:

This is the sugar-substituted version of a recipe on the King Arthur Flour website, a great place to learn how to bake. I buy their flours whenever they are available out here on the island. As you can see from the second photo, above, King Arthur All-purpose Flour was not available when I baked this pie.


      Friday, April 20, 2018

      Pad Thai Gai

      Pad Thai Gai with steamed Chinese long beans


      The Ingredients (for 4 to 5 servings):

      • 300 g (or 12 oz) of extra-firm tofu
      • 4 lime leaves
      • 45 ml (or 3 tablespoons) of tamarind paste
      •  stevia equivalent of 30 g (or 2 tablespoons) of sugar
      • 30 ml (or 2 tablespoons) of fish sauce
      • 2 g (or 1 teaspoon) of ground Cayenne pepper
      • 680 g (or 1½ lb) of boneless chicken
      • 6 cloves of garlic, weighing approximately 30 g (or 1 oz)
      •  2 shallots, weighing approximately 120 g (or 4 oz)
      • 50 g (or ⅓ cup) of sweet preserved radish. (I used a local, Korean-inspired pickled daikon.)
      • 4 eggs
      • 50 g (or ⅓ cup) of unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts
      • 1 large or 2 smaller scallions weighing approximately 40 g (or 1½ oz), or the equivalent amount of Chinese chives
      • 225 g (or 8 oz) of brown rice noodles
      • 4 cups of mung or soybean sprouts weighing approximately 275 g (or 10 oz)
      • salt
      • white pepper
      • cooking grade olive oil

        The Method:
        1. Three to four hours before you intend to serve this dish, press the tofu by placing it between two flat plates next to a sink, and putting a weight on top.
          (I used a full water pitcher for the weight.)
        2. About half an hour before serving time, wash the lime leaves and slice them finely. 
        3. Mix together the tamarind paste, stevia, fish sauce, Cayenne pepper, and lime leaves in a large bowl.
        4. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and place them in the bowl with the tamarind marinade.
        5. Mix the marinade thoroughly into the chicken and place the bowl into the refrigerator.
        6. Grind or smash the garlic cloves with a small amount of salt until the mixture becomes shiny or foamy.
        7. Chop the shallots finely.
        8. Chop the preserved radish into small slivers.
        9. Crack the eggs into a small bowl and whisk them with a fork until yolks and whites are thoroughly mixed.
        10. Chop the peanuts into small pieces and set them aside.
        11. Chop the chives or scallions finely.
        12. Discard the water that has been pressed out of the tofu, wipe the tofu dry, and cut it into 20 or 25 cubes.
        13. Heat a wok or skillet over high heat and add olive oil to a depth sufficient to fry the tofu cubes.
        14. Place the tofu cubes into the oil and stir-fry them until they turn a light tan color, then set them aside in a small bowl.
        15. Place the dry rice noodles into a bowl that will hold them easily and place a colander on top of the bowl.
        16. Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to boiling point.
        17. Blanch the bean sprouts for 1 minute in the boiling water then drain them in a colander set over the bowl of noodles. Add cold water to the bowl until the noodles are completely submersed.
        18. Rinse the bean sprouts with cold water, then set them aside in the colander.
        19. Meanwhile, allow the noodles to soak for a few minutes in the hot water while stir-frying the aromatics.
        20. Reheat the wok or skillet over high heat, using only enough of the olive oil to coat the bottom and sides generously.
        21. Add the shallot, garlic, and preserved radish and stir-fry until some pieces are starting to turn brown.
        22. Immediately drain the noodles in a colander and add them to the wok, stir-frying to coat them with a thin film of olive oil.
        23. Add the chicken pieces, setting aside excess marinade.
        24. Stir-fry until the chicken is lightly browned on all sides.
        25. Turn the heat to low, and push the noodle mixture to one side of the wok or skillet.
        26. Pour the beaten egg into the cleared part of the skillet and stir-fry it vigorously until it is completely cooked.
        27. Chop the cooked egg into small pieces with the thin edge of the cooking spatula.
        28. Continue stir-frying to mix the egg into the noodle mixture. 
        29. Taste the noodle mixture and add some of the reserved marinade, if necessary, to enhance taste or noodle texture. (I used all of it.)
        30. Turn the heat to low, add the tofu, bean sprouts, and scallions or chives, and sprinkle with white pepper. 
        31. Mix well, and turn the pad thai gai out onto a serving dish.
        32. Sprinkle the chopped peanuts on top or serve them separately in a bowl.

          The Story:

          With whole-grain, brown rice noodles and a sauce slightly sweetened with stevia, this pad thai is an excellent choice for an Asian meal with a low glycemic index. I based it on a recipe found on the Taste of Asian Food web site.

          Wednesday, March 7, 2018

          Flatiron Fajitas




          The Ingredients (for 4 to 6 servings):

          Salsa:

          • 6 to 8 tomatillos, weighing approximately 450 g (or 1 lb)
          • 1 medium red onion, weighing approximately 225 g (or 8 oz)
          • 4 cloves of garlic, weighing approximately 15 g (or ½ oz)
          • 30 ml (or 2 tablespoons) of cooking grade olive oil
          • 1 bunch of cilantro, weighing approximately 43 g (or 1½ oz)
          •  1 lime
          • 1 whole jalapeño or 2 whole Hawaiian chilis or the equivalent

          Cream
          •  30 ml (or 2 tablespoons) of mayonnaise
          • 45 ml (or 3 tablespoons) of prepared horseradish
          •  45 ml (or 3 tablespoons) of almond milk
          • 55 g (or 2 oz) of feta cheese

          Steak
          •  900 g (or 2 lb) of flatiron steak
          •  10 g (or 1½ tablespoons) of ground cumin
          • 8 g (or 1½ tablespoons) of ground coriander
          • 10 g (or 1½ tablespoons) of hot paprika
          • salt
          •  pepper
          •  cooking grade olive oil

          The Method:

          Tomatillo Salsa
          1. At least 2 hours before cooking the steak, make the salsa by first husking then washing the tomatillos. Cut each in half and place them in a medium bowl.
          2. Peel the onion and slice it thinly, then add the onion slices to the bowl.
          3. Bruise and peel the garlic cloves, then add them to the bowl.
          4. Add the olive oil and mix it in until every piece of vegetable is lightly coated.
          5. Spread the tomatillo mixture out onto a baking sheet or broiler pan covered with aluminum foil. Place the tomatillos with their skins facing upward.
          6. Turn on the broiler to high and, when it is hot, place the pan of vegetables under it, at a distance of about 7.5 to 10 cm (or 3 to 4 inches). 
          7. Broil the tomatillo mixture until the vegetables are beginning to char, approximately 8 to 10 minutes.
          8. Set the tomatillo mixture aside to cool.
          9. Meanwhile, wash the cilantro and chop it roughly, then place it into a blender or food processor.
          10. Zest the lime, and add it to the food processor.
          11. Squeeze the lime, and add the juice and pulp to the food processor.
          12. Wash the chili pepper(s) and chop them finely, then add them to the food processor.
          13. When the tomatillo mixture is cooled, add this also to the food processor and purée to the desired consistency.

          14. Set the salsa aside to develop and blend the flavors.
          Horseradish Cream
          1. At least one hour before cooking the steak, make the horseradish cream by combining the mayonnaise, horseradish, almond milk, and crumbled feta in a blender.
          2. Blend until there are no lumps of cheese. If necessary, adjust the proportions of the ingredients and blend again so that the consistency is like that of a thick cream.
          3.  Place the horseradish cream in the refrigerator.
          Flatiron Steak
          1. Rinse the flatiron steak briefly, pat it dry, and place it on a wide board or platter.
          2. Heat a griddle or skillet to high.
          3. While the griddle is heating, place the cumin, coriander, paprika, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and mix well to combine them evenly.
          4. Sprinkle or rub the seasoning mixture onto both sides of the steak.
          5.  When the griddle is hot, spray or lightly spread olive oil all over it.
          6. Place the seasoned steak onto the griddle and cook it undisturbed for 4 to 5 minutes.
          7. Turn the steak and cook the other side for 4 to 5 minutes also.

          The Fajita:

          Cut the flatiron steak into thin slices across the grain. Serve with soft, warmed tortillas, crisp lettuce leaves, and the tomatillo salsa and horseradish cream.

          The Story:

          This dish is adapted from a recipe I found on a website called The Chew.

          Thursday, January 18, 2018

          Steelhead Dijonnaise

          Steelhead Dijonnaise, an Artichaut Vinaigrette, also on this blog, and chick-pea flour linguine with pesto


          The Ingredients (for 5 to 6 servings):

          • 680 g (or 1½ lb) of steelhead trout fillet(s) (I used a single, large fillet which was easier to skin)
          • 3 to 4 cloves of garlic, weighing approximately 20 g ( or ¾ oz)
          • 2 g (or ¼ teaspoon) of salt
          • 80 ml (or ⅓ cup) of white wine
          • 60 ml (or 4 tablespoons) of Dijon mustard
          • 25 ml (or 1½ tablespoons) of lemon juice
          • 5 g (or 1½ tablespoons) of dried dill weed
          • 8 g (or 1½ tablespoons) of unsalted lemon-pepper seasoning
          • Olive oil

            The Method:
            1. If necessary, peel the skin off the steelhead fillet(s) using a small, sharp knife to loosen the flesh while pulling the skin back with the other hand.
            2. Turn on the oven and set it to 205°C (or 400°F).
            3. Spray or brush olive oil all over the inside of an oven-proof dish that will hold the steelhead comfortably in one layer.
            4. Place the fillet(s) into the oven-proof dish.
            5. Peel the garlic cloves and mash or grind them with the salt until they form a paste.
            6. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together the garlic, wine, mustard, lemon juice, dill, and lemon-pepper seasoning until the mixture is homogeneous.
            7. Pour the wine and mustard mixture over the steelhead fillet(s) until they are completely coated.
            8. Place the dish into the oven and bake the steelhead until it is opaque on the outside and still soft and moist in the thickest part of the fillet. This might take 10 to 16 minutes, depending on the size of the fillet(s). 

              The Story:

              This dish is very little changed from a recipe by Nora on the allrecipes web site.

              Thursday, October 26, 2017

              Megan's Wholesome Bread



              Notes:

              • This recipe was developed using a bread machine, specifically, the Oster CKSTBRTW20, which has been an excellent investment for our household.
              • Sourdough starter can be bought online. Having been a long-time resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, I preferred to order from SourdoughBreads, and received a very helpful instruction booklet with the sourdough starter.

                The Ingredients (for a 2-lb loaf):

                • 475 ml (or 2 cups) of filtered (but not distilled) water
                • 120 ml (or ½ cup of live sourdough starter
                • 15 ml (or 1 tablespoon) of honey
                • 60 g (or ½ cup) of whole grain oat flour
                  (or approximately  60 g (¾ cup) of 1-minute quick cooking, whole-grain rolled oats)
                •  310 g (or 2¾ cups) of whole wheat flour (bread flour if available)
                • 180 g (or ¾ cup) of white flour (bread flour if available)
                •  35 g (or ¼ cup) of bulgur
                •  32 g (or ¼ cup) of raw sesame seeds
                •  32 g (or ¼ cup) of raw sunflower seeds
                •  25 g (or ¼ cup) of ground flaxseed
                •  4.5 g (or 1¼ teaspoons) of yeast for bread machines
                •  8 g (or 1½ teaspoons) of salt
                • 15 g (or 2 tablespoons) of raw hemp seeds
                •  coarse-grind, whole grain cornmeal

                The Method:

                1. It is best to begin this recipe early in the morning, as it may take all day for the sourdough to ferment enough.
                2. If you have no oat flour, use the rolled oats by first placing them into a food processor or grain mill and then grinding it into flour.
                  (We use the smoothie attachment of our food processor and it works very well for this small volume.)
                3. In a straight-sided, transparent container such as a Pyrex® casserole dish, place the filtered water, the sourdough starter, honey, oat flour, and just  115 g (or 1 cup) of the whole wheat flour.


                4. Stir the starter mixture gently but thoroughly, breaking up any lumps, to distribute the ingredients evenly throughout.

                5.  Place the starter mixture in a warm, dry spot such as a wide window sill and allow it to sit for several hours.
                  Note:
                  The mixture will start to form bubbles immediately. After a couple of hours it might produce a thin layer of liquid on top. Do not disturb this liquid.

                  The starter is ready when there are bubbles or foam (from the yeast fermentation) all over the top of the mixture and the watery layer has sunk under the floury, foamy layer.
                  Bubbles all over the top of the starter

                  The watery layer is evident below the bubbly layer
                6. Check on the starter mixture hourly until it achieves this appearance.
                  (In my kitchen in Hawai'i the ambient temperature was 24°C (75°F) and the whole starter fermentation process took 5 hours.)
                7. Place the starter mixture into the baking pan of the bread machine and add (consistent with manufacturer's instructions as to order of ingredients) the remaining  195 g (or 1¾ cups) of whole wheat flour, the white flour, the bulgur, the sesame seeds, the sunflower seeds, the flaxseed, the salt, and the yeast.
                8. Place the pan into the bread machine.
                9. Plug in the bread machine and set it to:
                  Menu: "Whole Wheat"
                  Loaf Size: "2 lb"
                  Crust Color: "Dark"
                10. Press the Start button on the bread machine.
                11. Either remove the loaf at the end of the baking cycle or, if you want a free-form loaf, stop the bread machine after the final rise and before it begins to heat up for the baking step.
                  (This takes a calculation based on the schedule for a 2-lb, whole grain loaf in the manufacturer's instruction booklet.)
                12. Roll the dough onto a flat surface and shape it into a boule, gently but quickly stretching the sides down and underneath the boule until they meet.
                13. Sprinkle the hemp seeds onto the flat surface and roll the boule gently across them so that the seeds stick to the top and sides.

                14. Sprinkle a sparse layer of cornmeal onto a baking sheet.
                15. Lift the boule gently onto the cornmeal.
                16.  With a safety razor or extremely sharp knife, make criss-cross cuts on the top of the boule.
                17. Place the boule onto a middle shelf in the cold oven.
                18. Place a pan of water underneath on a lower oven shelf.
                19. Turn on the oven and set it to 190°C (375°F).
                20. Bake the boule for 40 minutes.
                21. Place the boule on a rack and allow it to cool.

                The Story:

                Thanks to my daughter Megan for working on this recipe until she was satisfied with it. The starting point was Alton Brown's Very Basic Bread and a comparison of the two recipes shows how many tweaks and changes she made.

                The mostly whole grain flours, the very low sugar, and the many kinds of seeds in this bread make it a good choice for a source of carbs in the diabetic diet. The sourdough, the crustiness, and again the seeds give it a unique taste. Sourdough starter can be bought online in dried form, as mentioned in the Notes section above. Once hydrated and allowed to ferment, it can be kept in the refrigerator indefinitely with regular additions of water and flour, according to instructions that should be included with the initial purchase.
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